Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How much does TV influence body image?

This is not what I thought science was. In a study published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology and reported in Science Daily, the researchers asked kids 121 girls 3 to 6 years old how much they worried about being fat and other appearance-related questions. "Nearly half ...said they worry about being fat. About one-third would change a physical attribute, such as their weight or hair color."

Then they watched clips of either neutral TV (Dora the explorer or Clifford the big red dog) or beauty-centric parts of  Beauty and the Beast. Then they went into a room with lots of play stuff, and it turned out the girls who got the beauty message played with the appearance related stuff, such has hair brushing, the same amount of time as the girls who watched Clifford did.

The natural inference is that watching Beauty being told how beautiful she was didn't affect the kids all that much.  The primary author said,
While the study found no short-term consequences for young girls, the media's portrayal of beauty likely is one of the strongest influences on how they perceive their bodies because children spend so much time watching movies and television, Tantleff-Dunn said.
Now I can see saying this is contrary to all that published stuff, so we need to figure out why, but what they actually said was, "Our study said X is true, but we really know that it is not."

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